CashCalc founder Ray Adams talks cashflow software and automated advice
Ray Adams tells Fiona Bond how he is further developing Cashcalc to give advisers greater control of their market and why he sees automated advice as an opportunity that advisers should embrace
Chartered financial planner Ray Adams has ambitious plans to grow his cashflow modelling software CashCalc, amid growing demand for simple, easy-to-use technology.
Since launching three years ago, CashCalc has amassed over 5,600 registered IFA users, with client “funds under calculation” hitting £21.5 billion, and Adams says that number is increasing month-on-month.
“A lot of financial advisers were using cashflow modelling, but in its most basic form,” explains Adams. “Then came the advent of software like Prestwood Truth, which is great, but we wanted to create something that was simple to use and inexpensive.”
Accordingly, says Adams, CashCalc allows advisers to create detailed cashflow plans for clients, in what he describes as a “refreshingly straightforward way,” with the intention of making it easier and more engaging for clients. Initially designed just for his own Newport-based firm, Niche IFA, Adams says he soon recognised demand from IFAs for this type of software and made the decision to roll it out to the market.
He says: “When we launched in 2014, the offering was around 10 per cent of where we are today. Since that time, we have listened to what advisers like and need, and our offering has grown significantly.”
Fact find tool
Today, Adams has seven full-time in-house developers working on offering a suite of tools and calculators covering all aspects of financial planning, with a fact find tool the latest feature set to launch. The tool will allow clients to fill in financial data remotely via a secure email link, which will then be sent directly to the adviser.
Adams says: “We are not going to standstill. From day one the plan was to get to here and beyond – we want to keep growing and continue to improve the software. Introducing a fact find tool allows advisers to streamline the service they offer; they will have all the hard facts before they meet with the client so they can spend that meeting focusing on the soft skills and understanding the client’s goals.”
Following an initial trial run by two users, Adams is in the process of rolling the fact find tool out to 42 volunteer test users, after which time he plans to officially launch it.
Future clients and robo-advice
Rather than being a threat, this is technology that puts the adviser at the hub of the process and in control, says Adams.
He is a firm believer that technology has a vital role to play in the advice market going forward and says advisers should embrace the developments.
“Many people see robo-advice as the death of the IFA but that’s simply scaremongering. I see the IFA as the gatekeeper,” he explains.
“Too often, the focus is upon finding new, wealthy clients who require full advice, but advisers should look at the network they have as part of their business, such as clients’ children and take advantage of the different opportunities.”
While Adams acknowledges that younger generations will not have as much wealth as older clients, he believes it is important for the industry to nurture the next generation of potential clients. By employing younger advisers and paraplanners to work with those clients, Adams says firms can make automated advice profitable.
“If you have an automated advice process, the client is doing a lot of the work,” he says. “Yet, those clients know you’re there and as their wealth and advice needs increase, they will potentially want a fuller advice proposition.”
Adams says advisers must also be open to the fact that increasingly, clients will come to expect a range of advice options, and may wish to combine different types of interaction such as telephone, online and face-to-face. It is a notion which Adams says firms can control and successfully implement by categorising clients according to their choice.
“We are not looking to out the IFA with technology,” says Adams. “Rather, we want to make the IFA the hub of everything, but with simpler, more efficient technology. It’s in our human nature to want everything that little bit faster, and this is where technology has a fantastic role to play.”
Adams points to the average age of IFA and client, and says preparations need to be put in place for the next more tech-savvy generation of adviser and client coming through.
He says: “Three years ago, just a few hundred were using cashflow modelling. Now we have thousands on our software alone, which is testament to the growing appetite among IFAs to adopt technology to their advantage.
“While some advisers may think I’m mad to believe hybrid robo-advice can be successfully implemented, I think it can be done. As an industry, if we can use technology to help deliver a better, more efficient service it will only be to our benefit and encourage more people to seek advice.”
Visit the CashCalc website